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26 May 2014

UNDP Administrator to visit Belarus on 28-31 May

MINSK, 26 May (BelTA) – Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, UN Under Secretary General Helen Clark is expected to visit Belarus on 28-31 May, representatives of the Public Information Department of the UN Office in Belarus told BelTA.

It will be the first time in the history of Belarus-UNDP cooperation that the UNDP head will visit Belarus.

UN/UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha remarked that the visit will demonstrate the UNDP’s adherence to helping Belarus with economic and social development. During the visit the sides are supposed to discuss results of UNDP efforts in Belarus over the last few years and ways of future cooperation. In particular, ways to finance UNDP projects in association with the Belarusian side will be discussed. “It will increase the commitment of Belarusian government agencies to implement joint projects and can also attract attention of international donors,” believes Sanaka Samarasinha.

An out session of the UN interagency group for overcoming consequences of the Chernobyl disaster will take place in Minsk on 30 May. The session will start the development of long-term approaches towards international cooperation on Chernobyl problems for the period after 2016. Sanaka Samarasinha admitted that the interest of donors in matters concerning the overcoming of Chernobyl consequences tends to fall. “However, it doesn’t mean that the problem is a thing of the past,” he stressed. “In 2013 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that urges to continue efforts to minimize consequences of the disaster, with the UNDP tasked with doing most of the work needed to put together a framework concept for the period till 2016”.

Helen Clark is expected to visit the town of Vetka, Gomel Oblast on 29 May as well as the compulsory evacuation zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A meeting with representatives of municipal authorities will take place in Vetka. The UNDP head will also meet with the local residents, who have taken part in the implementation of UNDP projects in Chernobyl-affected territories.

Visiting the town of Vetka is a symbolical event because many UNDP projects have been implemented for the residents of Vetka and the district. The UNDP set out to improve the infrastructure and the access of the people to new technologies, said Sanaka Samarasinha. In particular, a children’s playground in Vetka has been fully reconstructed as part of the UNDP project designed to improve the safety of people in Chernobyl-affected areas. Thanks to the project meant to develop the International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN) a center for access to information technologies was opened in a local library in 2011.

Since cooperation began, the UNDP has implemented over 150 projects in Belarus. Financial support allocated by donors to implement country initiatives became higher. In 1994-2005 the UNDP managed to attract $30 million to Belarus. In 2006-2010 the organization mobilized $73.4 million. The UNDP will continue complementing efforts of the Belarus government to address the most important problems of economic development, foster social progress and better living standards for the people, assured Sanaka Samarasinha.

The UNDP is now busy working out a framework program to render aid to Belarus in 2016-2020. “We plan to synchronize the preparation of the document with the Belarus government taking into account the fact that the country’s authorities are now working on the national strategy for the social and economic development till 2030 and the country’s development program for 2016-2020,” explained Sanaka Samarasinha.

He added that the UNDP will continue supporting efforts of the Belarus government to help the most vulnerable population strata, in particular, the project to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

Helen Clark is expected to call a press conference in Minsk City Hall on 31 May to sum up results of the visit. At the same time three-time Olympic champion Darya Domracheva will be appointed the UNDP’s goodwill ambassador in Belarus.

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